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Flight Lieutenant George Aird AFC
Pilot of 118 Squadron and de Havilland Test Pilot.

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Test pilot George Aird - flying a English Electric Lightning F1 - ejected from his English Electric Lightning F1 aircraft at a fantastically low altitude in Hatfield, Hertfordshire 13th September 1962   (Thanks to Daily Mirror Reference MP_0018484.)

1px-trans.gif, 43 bytesMr G P Aird AFC a test pilot with the He Havilland Aircraft Company, ejecting from Lightning P1B XG 332 on 13 September 1962.   He was on finals for an emergency landing at Hatfield, following    A double reheat fire warning occurred about 15 miles North East of Hatfield.   George was making a normal powered approach, unfortunately he had to position for runway 06 as the wind was from the northeast.   His approach to Hatfield was from the NE.   The runway was short by Service standards so the manually operated barrier had been erected at the northeast end of 06.   At about 10 seconds from touchdown, at about 100 ft, the aircraft suddenly pitched nose up and, since there was no response to the controls, he ejected.   The aircraft crashed on the airfield, broke up and caught fire.

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1px-trans.gif, 43 bytesThe wreckage of the Lightning can be seen above just on the airfield short of runway 06 and just beyond the greenhouses in which George landed.   Fire damage was the cause of this accident; the anchorage for the tail plane actuator jack had burned away, hence the loss of elevator control.

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George landed in a greenhouse sustaining several fractures.   The hole where George and the ejection seat went through the glass roof can be seen in the above picture in the near end of the roof of the second greenhouse from the left.   They landed in adjoining rows of tomatoes!   The damage at the far end of the greenhouse was made by the arrival of the Lightning canopy.   The remains of the Lightning can be seen on the left just into the airfield.   George was back flying again within six months and on Lightnings a year after the accident.

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The Culprit!

George retired from de Havillands (British Aerospace) in 1983 but continued executive and airline flying until his 65th birthday in 1993.   He now has an NPPL.

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